Share 600 million years of world heritage wonders!
Geopark Naturtejo Meseta Meridional - UNESCO European and Global Geopark - is the first Portuguese geopark integrating the UNESCO global network. It is a vast territory of 4625km2 unifying the municipalities of Castelo Branco, Idanha-a-Nova, Nisa, Oleiros, Proença-a-Nova and Vila Velha de Ródão under the main task of valuing the sites that act as key-testimonies of Earth History, instigating Nature tourism and promoting regional sustainable development. The wonderful geomorphological, geological, palaeontological and mining heritages are composed by geomonuments with national and international relevance, such as the wonderful exposures of roller-coaster behaviour in trilobite ichnofossils from Penha Garcia, the Penha Garcia, Portas do Ródão and Vale Mourão impressive quartzite gorges, the huge Roman gold mine of Conhal do Arneiro, the gigantic meanders of Zêzere river and the weird granite morphologies from Serra da Gardunha and Monsanto. Beyond geomonuments, the Geopark Naturtejo includes the Tejo Internacional Natural Park, Portas do Ródão Natural Monument and protected areas by municipalities and in the scope of Natura 2000 Network (sites Gardunha, Nisa and S. Mamede) and of Important Bird Areas (Penha Garcia-Toulões and the quartzite range of Ródão), that show its ecological richness and environmental awareness.
The millenary History of this region is revealed by the presence of hundreds of archaeological sites, the highest concentration of Templar castles, churches and manor houses, reaching a rare diversity in Portugal. The ruins of the Roman Civitas Egitania in Idanha-a-Velha, the Palaeolithic settlements and Rock Art widespread in the Tejo valley, as well as the megalithic regions of Nisa and Rosmaninhal are spots of vital archaeological understanding. The ancestral habits, lively testimonies of multiple singularities of borderland culture, have deep roots in the ancient landscape. The prize of "most Portuguese village of Portugal" won by Monsanto and the Slate Villages widespread by the Geopark are symbols of this ethnographic diversity still very well preserved.
The Geopark Naturtejo embraces a territory with some of the best places in the country, where it is possible to appreciate the mysteries of natural complexity powered by Earth dynamics and the ways Man wisely interacted with the landscape changing it. This is a region where every rock can tell you wonderful stories, where fields, villages and local people share with you the quality of being genuine, where all the trails end inexorably in self consciousness. Visiting from site to site the evidences will make you discover the conceptual details of a vast and fascinating natural history. It reveals the emergence of mountain belts where once were wide oceans and the formation of gravel deserts where already crossed icebergs and Tejo river is flowing tame nowadays by the human reason.
Geopark Naturtejo Meseta Meridional offers one of the densest trekking networks, short and long trails, in Portugal. These trails for territory discovery are the unifying lattice for multiple tourist hotspots. Under the Geology wonders you can find the Fossils Trail, the Mines Foot-path and the Granites Foot-path in Monsanto, all in Idanha-a-Nova, the Secrets of the Almourão Valley Foot-path (Proença-a-Nova) and the Cobbles Trails in Nisa. Besides the trekking routes, the Geopark Naturtejo annually presents an original program of thematic trails, usually with a strong multidisciplinary interest.
In broad Fossils Trail you can enjoy the Climbing School of Penha Garcia (Idanha-a-Nova), which guarantees high levels of adrenaline during its activities, such as climbing, rappel and slide in the quartzites, and horse riding on old smuggling routes that crossed the Penha Garcia syncline fold, a remnant of an ancient Himalayan-type mountain range with 300 million years old!
Water travels deep in Earth may be calmly enjoyed and better understood in the magnificent thermal spas of Monfortinho (Idanha-a-Nova) and Fadagosa de Nisa. There, let the Nature take care of you!
The quiet waters of Tejo river enable beautiful boat trips departing from Vila Velha do Ródão to explore the gorge of Portas do Ródão, the gryphon vultures nesting areas and the Tejo's Rock Art.
In the Municipal Centre for Culture and Development of Vila Velha do Ródão, you will be invited to discover the ways landscape and Human culture evolved together since more 150000 years ago, in the Portas do Ródão Natural Monument.
Granite, as economical resource and art object, can be understood and appreciated in the Quarryman Museum in Castelo Branco and the Sculptures Itinerary in Nisa.
Already in the Tejo Internacional Natural Park, feel so small in the immensity of one of the most important wildlife sanctuaries in all Europe.
And at the end, taste the best of local food under giant granite balls with the widest views over the Geopark and the most superb sunset in Petiscos & Granitos, the first geological restaurant in Europe. There, you can find also the rocks of the Geopark in "The Rolling Stones show - The Geological History of Portugal told by the Stones" and lots of workshops related to Geology and local culture.
The geotourist activities play along with a huge and original supply of tourist quality products, from gastronomy to historical heritage or from sport events to traditional religious festivities.
The richness of a land can't be explained, it must be felt. Are you feeling curious? So, dare you another challenge: Next weekend or on holidays come to Geopark Naturtejo Meseta Meridional and allow you to get lost in its most hidden trails. There are 600 million years of natural wonders to discover. I guarantee you it will be worth-while!
GEOPARK MONTHLY REPORT: